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Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators Play Nice. Sort Of

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Florida Panthers defenseman Josh Mahura falls on Ottawa’s Parker Kelly in the first period on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

SUNRISE — On a night when many so-called experts, including this reporter, expected more mayhem between the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, nothing happened.

Well, almost nothing.

Florida coach Paul Maurice also predicted a physical contest, based upon the recent history of these teams.

How the game started, it looked like the predictions would be a reality. 

Barely two minutes in, Ottawa agitator Zack MacEwen and Florida enforcer Jonah Gadjovich started the proceedings with a little punchout near the Ottawa net.

Four minutes later, Niko Mikkola and Ridly Greig had a wrestling match after Mikkola took exception to Greig’s extra-curricular activity, which netted Greig an extra two minutes in the box.

The peace-loving Tkachuk Brothers didn’t even make the scoresheet, save for a late game penalty to Brady.

We could have gone home after the first period with all the scoring done early.

In periods 2 and 3, there were no goals, a combined four minor penalties, and 34 shots on goal. 

Things were not totally passive, though: There were a combined total of 70 hits.

Ottawa’s Parker Kelly, who tussled with Ryan Lomberg in the previous game, discussed what Ottawa would like as their identity.

“We’re all just trying to follow Brady’s lead. He plays hard every night,” Kelly said. “I think we all can learn from him in that aspect. I think over the past three or four games everyone’s kind of done that. You’ve got to be physical in this league if you want to win.”

The Sens would have liked to keep momentum going, even though they’re going nowhere after a dramatic come-from-behind overtime victory over Washington two nights earlier. 

They could have been the spoilers in the Caps’ playoff battle, and non-playoff teams love that.

The Caps are hanging on to the final wild-card spot in the East, but Pittsburgh and Detroit are only a point behind, and Philadelphia has an outside shot.

Speaking of Detroit, if the Wings do get in, wouldn’t it be the year’s feel-good story if Alex Lyon backstopped a team to a dramatic playoff berth for the second consecutive year?

Conversely, the Panthers would have liked to open more distance between them and Toronto. 

It didn’t happen. 

Toronto bested New Jersey Tuesday but have only four games in which to surpass Florida. 

The Leafs have a game in hand, but Florida owns the tiebreaker. 

Maurice would no doubt like to clinch the second spot quickly so he can rest a few players and give some others needed ice time.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

ON DECK

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL/Panthers App
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Florida leads 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Jackets 4 OT (Nov.6); Thursday. At Columbus: Panthers 5, Blue Jackets 2 (Dec. 10)
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Columbus leads 26-19-4
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Buffalo, 5 p.m.

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